Chaim Soutine
(Smilowitschi bei Minsk, 1894-1943, Paris)
Portrait of a Lady, ca. 1928
Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm
Signed lower right: Soutine

Soutine's still lifes and landscapes possess the expressively self-tormenting features of his own nature, and the portraits and figure paintings are even more expressive in this respect. When he was painting his apocalyptic, puzzling landscapes at Céret in the Pyrenees around 1920, there appeared figure paintings like the "Man in the Green Coat", who is forced to undergo the most painful distortions. Only at the end of the 1920s does Soutine become cheerful in his pictures of sacristans, bakers' boys and bellboys, in which he can indulge his passion for vigorous colours like scarlet and also white and grey. And he is influenced by Rembrandt and Courbet. The portrait of a lady in the Bührle Collection is painted with veritable torrents of ultramarine blue, contrasted to the pink flesh tints, the brushwork is like licking flames, but it is no longer so encrusted and relief-like, but light and fluent. Everything that is exaggeratedly expressive and caricaturistic is avoided, and the severely symmetrical en-face representation of the young woman invests the painting with almost the quality of an Old Master.